NASA recently announced that their Kepler spacecraft, which was launched from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in 2009, has found evidence of an alien planet located within the habitable zone of it’s sun.
The habitable zone is an area that orbits at a close enough proximity to its sun to both be able to maintain liquid water and to potentially have other Earth-like qualities. The entire purpose of Kepler’s mission is to locate planets such as these, a mission that is sometimes referred to as the search for Earth’s twin. Although Kepler has identified thousands of planets and stars, this recent discovery appears from a distance to be the closest match yet to Earth.
There are many reasons why scientists are interested in finding an Earth like planet but the most prevalent among them is that they’re the most likely to be inhabited by intelligent life. To date there is no verified data about any other intelligent life existing outside of Earth, but both scientists and the vast majority of citizens find themselves gazing into space while wondering “what if” on a regular basis.
Through Kepler’s mission, NASA is drawing ever closer to either identifying intelligent alien life forms or to providing more conclusive evidence that they don’t exist.
Emboldened by Kepler’s greatest success in over two and a half years, the team behind the space observatory is reportedly making plans to propose extending Kepler’s mission for at least a year past the currently scheduled expiration of November 2012.